Melker triumphs in GP3 opener

Nigel Melker took victory in the GP3 season opener at Istanbul Park after going from third to first with an impressive opening lap

Melker triumphs in GP3 opener

The RSC Mucke driver picked off slow-starting polesitter Tom Dillmann (Carlin) at the first corner, and instantly picked up the chase of race leader Andrea Caldarelli (Tech 1).

Melker grabbed the lead by passing Caldarelli around the outside of Turn 12 at the end of the backstraight, and would hold on to the lead until the finish.

Caldarelli failed to capitalise on a mid-race safety car period - caused after Lewis Williamson collided with Leonardo Cordeiro and rolled at Turn 12. Williamson had been recovering from an early spin when he tried to pass MW Arden team-mate Mitch Evans for sixth on the opening lap, but he and Cordeiro clashed under braking at the end of the backstraight and the Briton's car rolled at relatively low speed when it reached the gravel.

But the bunching up of the field did not cause Melker any problems, as he made a good restart and crossed the line with a gap of 1.2 seconds to the snoozing Caldarelli.

The Italian then closed up again in the final laps, but Melker held his nerve to take victory.

Behind them, Dillmann spent the whole race defending from ART's Valtteri Bottas, and he held on to take third.

Antonio Felix da Costa (Status) climbed from 10th to fifth on the first lap and stayed there until the end, while behind him there was a bit more action.

Evans lost sixth place to Alexander Sims after the restart, but he got the place back on the penultimate lap as Sims's pace dropped.

The Briton then had his hands full defending from Addax driver Dean Smith on the final lap, and as the pair scrapped into Turn 12, Mucke's Michael Christensen was able to get past them both to take seventh.

Results - 15 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Nigel Melker RSC Mucke 28m13.773s 2. Andrea Caldarelli Tech 1 + 0.605s 3. Tom Dillmann Carlin + 2.942s 4. Valtteri Bottas ART + 3.840s 5. Antonio Felix da Costa Status + 4.410s 6. Mitch Evans MW Arden + 7.214s 7. Michael Christensen RSC Mucke + 10.608s 8. Alexander Sims Status + 11.713s 9. Dean Smith Addax + 11.928s 10. Gabby Chaves Addax + 19.559s 11. Nico Muller Jenzer + 23.673s 12. Zoel Amberg Atech CRS + 24.192s 13. Nick Yelloly Atech CRS + 24.977s 14. Ivan Lukashevich Status + 26.180s 15. Aaro Vainio Tech 1 + 26.354s 16. Tamas Pal Kiss Tech 1 + 27.239s 17. James Calado ART + 27.507s 18. Matias Laine Manor + 29.871s 19. Simon Trummer MW Arden + 30.222s 20. Dominic Storey Addax + 30.644s 21. Conor Daly Carlin + 31.336s 22. Pedro Nunes ART + 32.066s 23. Maxim Zimin Jenzer + 53.931s 24. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Manor + 1m03.096s 25. Vittorio Ghirelli Jenzer + 1 lap Retirements: Rio Haryanto Manor 13 laps Luciano Bacheta RSC Mucke 8 laps Leonardo Cordeiro Carlin 3 laps Lewis Williamson MW Arden 3 laps Marlon Stockinger Atech CRS 1 laps 
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